Skip to main content

Father of Assam's floating boats advises Gujarat activists not to accept govt interference in day-to-day work

Sanjoy Hazarika interacting with NGOs
By Our Representative
Sanjoy Hazarika, brain behind “floating clinics” of Assam, has advised Gujarat-based non-government organizations (NGOs) not to accept any government interference while working for the welfare of the people. Answering a flurry of questions from top Gujarat NGO representatives on “success” of his experiment and relations with Assam government, Hazarika, who currently runs as many as 16 boat clinics in Brahmaputra river in a dozen districts in order to reach farthest of the areas, said, “When the state health minister offered support, my condition was, we would accept government funds only one condition: No interference in our work.”
Saying that this was the crux of his success, which began about a decade ago in one district and one boat with the aim of fighting Assam’s highest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in India, 481 deaths per 1 lakh live births, Hazarika said, on his part, while signing an agreement, he “offered complete transparency, but made it clear that would withdraw in case government officials interfered.” The issue cropped up when Pankti Jog of Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM) said government’s mobile clinics in the Little Rann of Kutch, where saltpan workers work in remote and harsh conditions, had “collapsed”.
“The state government now says that it seems it is unable to go ahead with mobile medical clinics, as it cannot get doctors’ support. It has offered AHRM to take up the work of running mobile clinics”, Jog said, wondering what was the solution, and whether the organization which she represents should go ahead. “When I met the Assam chief minister with my experiment, he said it was a good experiment and I should go ahead with it”, Hazarika said, adding, following out experiment with just one boat, the district magistrate, Dibrugadh, showed interest, and then the health minister offered support.”
Currently part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the top Assam activist said, “A major reasons why doctors remain with floating clinics is, we have managed to take interns as part of the team. The interns who join us are offered Rs 5,000 more than the stipend in government hospitals. Then, those who join us get extra marks for their work with us. Although doctors are young, their presence has been a great help to about 20 lakh people living in scattered islands in Brahmaputra river, which at places is 18 kilometres wide.”
Already, Hazarika said, offers have come from at least three other states to go ahead with experiments on similar lines – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. “But unless local activists get involved and go ahead, and government agrees to work without seeking to interfere in day-to-day work, this will not go ahead”, Hazarika insisted. While calling his experiment as “public-private partnership”, he said, “As we are part of NRHM, we do not charge anything from the patients, including for delivery. Our health clinics have helped bring down MMR in Assam to 350, the highest fall anywhere in India.”
During the interaction, Hazarika showed a film on the floating clinic, produced jointly with the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES). It shows how the major innovative health campaign reached some of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India who live on hundreds of islands, called saporis, inaccessible and isolated, unknown and unheard.
A statement issued on the occasion by Benoy Acharya of Unnati, which organized the interaction, said, “There are no roads here but today, but boat clinics, conceived and developed by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, and manned by doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists as well as crew, organizers and community workers reach more than a million people, pulling them out of a deadly cycle of maternal and infant mortality, conditions which contrast dramatically with the overwhelming beauty of the place.
The statement said, “In partnership with the National Rural Health Mission of Assam, in tough terrain, rough weather and choppy waters, the teams struggle to bring communities from the margins of despair to the embrace of hope.C-NES is supported by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to implement a project providing preventive and promotiove health services in the islands through specially designed boats.”
Hazarika is Saifuddin Kitchelew Chair and is the Director of Centre for North East Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and managing trustee of C-NES a non-profit established in 2000 and is an eminent writer, journalist and an expert on the region. He is Member of the Central Council of Health & Family Welfare, under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare nominated by the Government of India. He has been a member of various academic organizations and official committees, including the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee to Review AFSPA, the Society of Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and the North East India Studies Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very Good work done by him... Commendable .... Hats off to him.

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.